Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 29

Brief outline: Khan, 29, gave up smoking four months ago. He is British Pakistani lives with his wife and they are expecting their first child. Khan smoked for 14 years before giving up with the help of an NHS clinic. Khan started smoking at age 14 and says that he was very addicted. He gave up after his Dad had heart problems and his wife persuaded him to quit. Khan has now stopped for four months.

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Khan started smoking when he was 14, and smoked until four months ago. He says that he was ‘properly addicted’ to cigarettes and still gets cravings. Khan thinks he started smoking as something of a ‘fashion trend’ when he was in a ‘bad crowd’. He has never tried cannabis or alcohol, just cigarettes.

Previously, during Ramadan, he wouldn’t fast ‘that much’ because he was addicted to the nicotine and couldn’t stop smoking; he said that even going without food was easier. However now he can fast during 30 days ‘no problem’. He used to smoke quite heavily - two packs of cigarettes a day sometimes - and always said to himself ‘I’m going to stop’. He started to get bad coughs and colds in the winter months, and also realised that he spent about £2000 a year on cigarettes. Instead of smoking helping him cope with stressful events, he said that he used to get more anxious and have a ‘funny stomach’ as a result of smoking. Khan had a couple of unsuccessful attempts at quitting, when he stopped suddenly and had the ‘shivers’ and ‘funny sweats’. He has also felt constipated, as previously having a cigarette always helped him go to the toilet.

Later, Khan’s father had a heart attack, and this event helped him make the decision to quit smoking. Previously he hadn’t realised that heart problems were connected with smoking. He read some information leaflets in hospital when his dad was an in-patient. In addition, his wife wanted him to give up smoking. Khan’s wife is also expecting their first child and he wanted to give up because he was about to start a family. He didn’t want his kids to start smoking. At this time, Khan knew a guy who worked for the NHS who said that he could help him stop. He went to a ‘stop smoking’ clinic and got nicotine replacement patches and regular one-to-one appointments at which his carbon monoxide levels were measured. He quickly started seeing a big difference.

Khan didn’t bother so much with the patches, but still managed to quit and said that he felt ‘different’ and ‘a bit fuzzy’. However, he saved a lot of money and said he feels stronger. Nevertheless, he felt that his speech is slurred, that he keeps forgetting things and that he becomes snappy – changes that happened at the same time as giving up smoking. Khan also has cravings for chocolate. Now he is doing more running and finds playing cricket easier. Khan chews chewing gum ‘all the time’, and spends the extra money he saves on clothes. He has gained a stone in weight despite previously being the same weight for a number of years. Now he thinks that he is ‘90% a non-smoker’.

Khan’s message to others is that they should open a bank account and save the money they aren’t spending on cigarettes. He also recommends that people test their fitness levels at the beginning of quitting smoking by attempting to run around a field and then repeating the exercise after they have quit, saying they would be surprised how much they improve and how quickly.


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